O’Brien Finds Consistency in Kranjska Gora GS; Shiffrin Maintains Overall Lead
Under the sunshine and on hard snow in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Nina O’Brien was the lone starter for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team in Saturday’s giant slalom, ending up in 26th—her fourth-straight points-scoring result across three disciplines.
For the first time since Soelden, Austria when she won by a mere six hundredths over reigning giant slalom titleholder, New Zealand’s Alice Robinson won with a stunning second run, by .34 seconds over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova. In fact, struggling to find her form, Alice had not even been on the podium since her win in Soelden. Rounding out the podium in third was a tie between Slovenian Meta Hrovat and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, 1.59 seconds off the pace set by Alice. This was just the second podium for Meta, and Wendy’s second-career giant slalom podium—her first was in Courchevel, France in December.
Nina had a solid first run despite a few small mistakes on a swingy course set by her coach Magnus Andersson. Nina started the second run strong, gaining time in the first two splits and ahead by .24 seconds at one point, but ran into trouble when she got low and lost nearly seven-tenths of a second on the bottom split.
Though she is struggling to put two solid and clean runs together, this is the fourth-straight points-scoring result for Nina across three disciplines: giant slalom, slalom, and parallel giant slalom. This is the seventh time Nina has scored points in 12 FIS Ski World Cup starts this season. Last season, Nina scored just twice, so the consistency has been there this season.
“It feels great to be finding some consistency lately,” noted Nina. “My skiing feels like it’s in a good spot, and the speed is getting there. While I’m always happy to be in the points, I want more. I had some really good sections today but ultimately made a few mistakes over terrain. It’s a process, and I’m trying to learn from each race. Hopefully, I can clean things up in tomorrow’s slalom!”
Noticeably missing from Saturday’s race was current overall leader and reigning giant slalom titleholder Mikaela Shiffrin. During the team captain’s meeting on Friday evening, U.S. Ski Team coach Magnus Andersson delivered a statement on behalf of Mikaela’s management team that read,
"As you can see, U.S. Ski Team athlete and current World Cup overall and slalom leader Mikaela Shiffrin’s name is not on the board for tomorrow. Our continued thoughts go out to Mikaela, Eileen, and Taylor as they deal with the incredible loss of their father and husband Jeff Shiffrin. At this point, we have no information to share about a return to Europe or a return to competition. We ask that you continue to respect the family’s privacy."
Despite sitting the last three race weekends out, Mikaela continues to hold the lead in the overall standings, by 113 points over Italy’s Federica Brignone (who finished a disappointing eighth in Saturday’s giant slalom) and 254 points ahead of Petra Vlhova. In the giant slalom standings, Federica is currently leading with 407 points, while Petra has moved to second with 333 points, followed by Mikaela with 314.
The races in Kranjska Gora were a replacement for the previously scheduled "Golden Fox Trophy" races in Maribor, Slovenia, but warm temperatures forced the change in venues.
Up next for the women is a slalom on Sunday, where Nina and Paula Moltzan are expected to start for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team. Mikaela currently has an 80-point lead in the slalom standings over Petra, with the next tech series in Ofterschwang, Germany March 7-8.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Saturday, Feb. 15
7:00 p.m. - Women’s giant slalom, Kranjska Gora, SLO - NBCSN*
Sunday, Feb. 16
4:00 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 1, Kranjska Gora, SLO - Olympic Channel.com, NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Women’s slalom run 2, Kranjska Gora, SLO - Olympic Channel, Olympic Channel.com, NBC Sports Gold
7:00 p.m. - Women’s slalom, Kranjska Gora, SLO - NBCSN*
Note: All televised events to stream across NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA app.
Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass, available here: https://www.nbcsports.com/gold/snow.